Why NV Energy has to step up its solar-power video game

Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015|2 a.m.

. The eighth National Clean Energy Summit just recently assembled in Las Vegas, and with each passing year, its organizer, Sen. Harry Reid, keeps pouring on more heat for things to obtain done. This year, President Barack Obama– the first standing president to speak at the event– took the podium to lean in with his own expectations.

In its early years, the gathering at Mandalay Bay was a possibility to encourage market experts to pursue clean-energy methods. Quickly enough, it started attracting federal government policymakers and other movers and shakers, and today– with marquee speakers– it is getting national press and the public’s attention. All the while, it has actually provided Reid chances to stack refuse upon coal-fired power plants and to plug away for a cleaner, much healthier world.

This year’s summit again was at Mandalay Bay, where a rooftop 20-acre solar panel range– the second-largest in the country– is being expanded by 8 acres to eventually satisfy 26 percent of the resort’s power need. This year’s summit speakers were equally enthusiastic in their objectives for the power market.

“Clean power from the sun is much cheaper than conventional power from the energy,” Obama stated. “It is difficult to overstate what this suggests. For decades, we’ve been informed that it’s not possible to switch to renewable resource. Today, that is no longer true.”

Reid summarized the progress made through the years in pursuit of clean energy however complained that “in lots of aspects, we are still stuck in the 19th century.” He kept in mind that power grids– networks of power lines to distribute electrical energy– were conceived by Thomas Edison in the 1880s. At the time it made sense, but no longer, Reid stated.

“Electric energies never thought of that households and businesses would have the ability to produce energy for the exact same rate as energy power plants,” he stated.

NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill seemed to bristle a bit when he took the podium, noting that about 20 percent of the utility’s electrical power is produced with renewable energy which the energy’s moms and dad company has actually invested more than $16 billion in solar jobs.

“This is not your grandpa’s energy company,” he informed the audience, attempting to rebuke Reid’s remarks.

But Caudill missed the point a bit. We are encountering a chance, if not the necessity, for a transformation in our method to conference energy requirements.

About 4.3 percent of NV Energy’s power production is from solar power. Part of what’s getting in the way of greater usage of solar energy has actually been the economics of generating and dispersing it. The generation side of the equation is solving itself with significantly cheaper photovoltaic panels. The tricky part is the distribution network and how to avoid the expense of a troublesome, old-fashioned grid.

To that end, energies should check out brand-new distribution ideas that still provide them some revenue. Customers are worthy of the alternative of producing their own solar power and cutting free of the power grid– an alternative that will certainly become more sensible when household-scale batteries become affordable.

We are heartened that in addition to NV Energy’s sun-fired jobs, solar power is discovering grips in rural Nevada. The Lincoln County Power District built a 90-kilowatt solar facility, and near Pahrump, the Valley Electric Association is developing a 54,000-panel, 15-megawatt solar power plant so its members can sign purchase agreements for more affordable, solar-generated electricity.

NV Energy must innovate as never before to catch and efficiently disperse our cleanest and most ubiquitous resource. It may be time for a new paradigm in energy production and distribution, where we throw out the old company designs in favor of ones where consumers are rewarded, not penalized, for tapping the sun.

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